I don't think questions should be closed because they might turn argumentative, better to wait and see what develops (and trounce on it quickly if it does spark up). It's on the edges and fringes where interesting things happen and learning takes place.

For example I think the question on ArcGIS Server vs Open Source had great potential. It would be very useful and interesting to know when and why people are choosing one platform over the other, and is a central and recurring issue for many of us. Yes "propietary vs open" style questions can easily slip into he said/she said unproductive debates, but it doesn't have to go that way, and in this example it didn't. The question is not very good, but the answers given to date are good.

I think the asker should have been given more time to respond to the criticism before closing the question. 1 day is too short.

  • Thanks matt for defend me little bit. I am not a big pro right now but I am trying to do a good job. True, maybe my question was not very clear but i think the discussion and replys was very tangible and useful (at least for me).
    – com
    Aug 25, 2010 at 12:52
  • @com, I've been thinking of reposting the Q with clarified wording, and a postcript that this is a test to see if the community actually can have an open ended subjective discussion which results in real tangible answers and not degenerate into a holy war. I've not done so yet for two reasons: time, and I didn't want to be seen to be scooping someone elses Q, and possibly gaining rep thereby. Feel free to start the experiment yourself; please put thought and time into the question. Aug 30, 2010 at 19:55

5 Answers 5


I was the one who closed the question. I appreciate your commentary. I was just trying to fill the moderation job as asked.

If the question was put in another, that might be the case, but I've felt that it could turn into a major discussion without anything productive into it.

You can vote to re-open the question and see where it goes.

  • I'll wait a bit and see if the asker has any comments first. No need to make it look like we're at war with each other :) Aug 19, 2010 at 20:26
  • I agree that the question should be closed: as it was stated, it wasn't clear what the questioner wanted. I think that many of the answers which arose were interesting, and migrating them into a clear and concise question would be a useful thing.
    – scw
    Aug 19, 2010 at 22:40
  • @scw's comment raises a point of process I've been wondering about (not sure if this should be a Q on it's own...): is it better to improve a bad question in place, or close it and ask as a new question, migrating the good answers? I'm inclined to the latter, but either way can we agree on which should be the default process? Aug 20, 2010 at 16:42
  • I agree the question should have been closed. Concerning reopening, I personally would not -- there were quite a few subjective answers posted. The existing "good" parts are easy enough for respondents to reuse if a future, specific question is posed.
    – glennon
    Aug 20, 2010 at 19:53

That particular question was too broad and left too many "flammable" topics lying out in the open. It's asking "Who would win, The Incredible Hulk, or ninjas?"

ArcGIS Server is one product. Open Source is not.

There are plenty of other places on the Internet to re-enact holy wars. Please don't let stack exchange join them.

I wanted to submit an answer to the question, but didn't. During the time it was open, the answers were really feeling like evangelism - and my response would have opposed them. Such discussions rarely lead to a conclusion.

  • I'm sorry we don't have your viewpoint expressed. I think we are impoverished when dissenting opinions are not voiced. Rather than closing "there isn't a right answer" questions I would like to see us close "this isn't getting anywhere" questions. It isn't dissension which is a problem, it's the manner and tone in which they're aired and exchanged. Aug 21, 2010 at 7:12

The FAQ instructs users to:

Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. This is not a discussion board, this is a place for questions that can be answered!

This is part of the stack exchange format.

Nevertheless, some interesting points can arise from questions like this. Perhaps a more specific question could be asked, such as, for example:

What tools can perform ? What are their pros and cons?

  • 1
    A significant benefit of the StackExchange "objective only" format is not having an endless thread.
    – glennon
    Aug 20, 2010 at 19:59
  • PS - fmark, that's me agreeing with you.
    – glennon
    Aug 20, 2010 at 20:12

I also get the feeling that we were perhaps a bit too hasty. Certainly there must be proprietary vs open flame-out experiences at StackOverflow we can learn from. I'd be interested in seeing links to similar questions at SO that were closed - or perhaps not closed but should have been.

  • yes, it would be instructive to be able to point at and exemplars of each. X question was properly closed; Y question could have been closed but wasn't, and look at these great results (or not!) Aug 20, 2010 at 16:34
  • Here's a squashed question: stackoverflow.com/questions/2966807/… - found with search terms "closed:1 open source proprietary". I haven't found any good flameouts yet.
    – mwalker
    Aug 22, 2010 at 5:01
  • And here's a flameout - survived almost 24 hours. stackoverflow.com/questions/2248892/…
    – mwalker
    Aug 22, 2010 at 5:11

In attempt to draw this discussion to something resembling a conclusion, I'll attempt to summarize our answers. The goal is to leave something which can be used as a guide in future. It's community wiki, edit to suit please.


The question was right to be closed, being too vague. Closing could have waited a few more hours.

Reopening is not a good idea. To get the gold out, ask new question with tighter focus and better formulation. The good answers question can be migrated (assuming they still fit).

Opinion is variable as to whether unanswerable questions should be tolerated, or how much they should be. We could use some examples to study from SO.

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